'Coaching exposes us to the very thing we run from'

It’s all well and good to “leave it to the universe”, but sometimes the universe needs to be corralled.
It’s all well and good to “leave it to the universe”, but sometimes the universe needs to be corralled.  Photo: Nic Walker

There are Post-it notes on the bathroom mirror, more on the kitchen cupboards and even some in the car. They say words such as “peace”, “alignment” and “trust”. Words that might mean nothing to anyone else but they’re holding me to account. Little fluoro-pink reminders of the state in which I aspire to live.

I took photos of the notes to prove I’d stuck them where I can’t miss them and sent them to my life coach. She was on my case. She knows that shifting entrenched ways can’t be left to chance.

I didn’t go looking for a life coach. I wasn’t sure what one was. But my life coach was there all along. Since high school to be precise. I used to sit next to Alexandra Andrews in geography and even then she knew where she was heading. And that was before she trained with Tony Robbins. So when I thought my life could do with a bit of coaching, I knew where to turn.

I did so with trepidation. I’m already maxed out with soul-searching and self-analysis, forever digging for how I can upgrade myself and hence my life. I meditate twice a day, dip into therapy and kinesiology, and have Oprah’s Super Soul on high podcast rotation.

All that inner work is certainly beneficial and it’s a pursuit I’ll persist with. But I was seeking help with a specific shortcoming and thought a life coach might do the trick. I needed a kick-along on the earthly plane.

I battle with a frustrating and limiting propensity for chronic indecision, rampant procrastination and woeful time management. While I work to unravel the deeper causes for this (which are always there), in the meantime it was crucial I get on top of it. This didn’t so much require analysis as practice. I needed to be taught how to plan ahead. I needed to get proactive.

To organised types, this might sound like a no-brainer. But I grapple with the seemingly straightforward eternal truth that to increase the likelihood of my future self (and my children) having a meaningful life, I need to plan for it now. It’s all well and good to “leave it to the universe”, but sometimes the universe needs to be corralled.

Planning ahead is my worst nightmare. I’m daunted by the logistics and the unavoidable decision-making. My fear is that by planning for one thing, I might be eliminating a more appealing option, so I stay stuck.

With a coach on my back, there was no escape. Alex had me write down an event I wanted to happen. I then broke it into smaller tasks and gave each a workable time frame, ticking them off as I went. It was uncomfortable but the job got done in a way I never would if I’d been left to my own devices.


“When you plan ahead, you shift from worry to joy, fear to fun,” said Alex. “You get to have something to look forward to.” Which might sound bleedingly obvious to “normal” people, but the very thought of it sent me into a spin. For me, it wasn’t just about planning my future life but breaking through what was holding me back.

My stagnation was linked to self-worth. My innate desire to acquiesce meant I’d forgotten how to put my needs first. I was so consumed with second-guessing other people’s agendas that I didn’t have one of my own. “Aiming to please others will never bring happiness,” cautioned Alex. “It’s like trying to hit a moving target.”

Where therapy might serve to unearth the source of this angst, coaching exposes us to the very thing we run from, making it a habit and, with time, second nature. To have an event organised a good three months out was liberating. I was on a roll. Next step, planning my life. “Write a plan of how you want to do life,” said Alex. “You get to decide”.

Dream big, aim high. Then take small but ambitious steps to make it a more conceivable reality … not just Post-it notes on the bathroom mirror.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale August 18.